Wednesday, December 30, 2009
... is my "butterfly dress." I made it about two months ago, but did not have a photo to post until this morning.
Ooops, I forgot to smile. I should have smiled, because wearing this dress makes me happy. I've given up on coralling Beloved Spouse into camera duty as he is rarely around and distractable at a time when I am wearing something I'd like a snapshot of and when the light is any good, so this morning I figured out how to use the timer function on our camera. How to pose attractively while waiting for the shutter to twitch is, clearly, a skill I have yet to master.
This is yet another rendition of my current favorite dress pattern, Vogue 8232. I was inspired by Cindy to make a long version (stretching the skirt to top-of-foot length, while keeping the hem width the same, results in a better hanging skirt on my body; at knee length the skirt is a bit full) and am glad I did. I'm eager to make several more as I wear long dresses around the house quite a bit and this one is both easy to whip up and very comfortable. Unfortunately, since I am on the tall side, it requires a good three yards of fabric and the largest pieces of appropriate fabric in my stash are around the two-yard size. I will have to either be creative or quickly sew up some UFOs and "earn" some new yardage.
I am quite sure that whoever designed this fabric (cotton, purchased online some time ago at half-price) had a nine-year-old girl in mind, but I have a fondness for the slightly goofy. And since this is for around-the-house wear only I can dress my inner nine-year-old, rather than my outer 51-year-old, if I want. How I got to be middle-aged (and pudgy!) are questions I am trying to ignore.
The best part of this dress is that if I do manage to lose some weight one of these days/years, I can nip it in along the side seams and it will refit well enough. At the rate my slim-down plans have been regressing I won't have to worry about that for a while. I do have a resolution or two in mind in that area, too, which I will blog about some other time.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
$100/month average fabric indulgence
177 yards purchased
136 yards used (some in UFOs, if it's been cut I counted it)
Not that I went totally off the deep end, or anything. I'm sure there are stashaholics out there who spent more, or aquired more yardage than I did. And I did sew up a lot of stuff, especially given my non-productive habit of starting at least three projects for every one I finish (take a moment to plot a graph of that in your mind, and you'll see that UFO overwhelm is the inevitable result). I've worn a lot of garments this year that I made myself and that I love. That's all I need to count 2009 as a successful step forward in the "learn to sew my own wardrobe" and "have a closet full of things that fit and that I love to wear" departments.
The fabric indulgence looks somewhat less excessive when I remember that I made three sets of curtains (five panels for the bedroom, and four panels each for my own and DH's home offices). Every one of 'em lined, and contrast borders on some. Curtains account for a large chunk of the '09 yardage.
Even so, I've added 40 yards to the stash. And I'm a long way from being done with those "learn to sew my own clothes" goals. I never did get around to learning to sew knits this year, and in spite of all this positive spin on things the bottom line is I spent more than I'd budgeted on fabric and I'm not in danger of running low anytime soon. And the UFO pile is awesomely, mind-numbingly, intimidatingly large and untidy. I counted those too, but can't bring myself to go public with a specific number (excessive) of incompletes.
I (briefly) considered instituting another self-imposed fabric embargo along the lines of "don't buy any more fabric until XX yards are used up" but given my laughable lack of success sticking to that one in the early days of this year I thought I'd try a different approach for '10.
Herewith, my sewing resolutions for the coming year:
1) Spend less, sew more. Really. I mean it. If I only stick to ONE resolution, this is the one I should aim for.
2) Complete one UFO before starting each new sewing project. I have way, way, way too many "in progress" projects in various states of incompletion.
3) Work on ONE garment project at a time. FINISH it before moving on to the next.This will be tough. I will need to be vigilant and disciplined to achieve this one! I am motivated by hindsight, which reveals that I often sew and sew and sew and sew, and inch forward on so many different projects at once that any one of those projects can take months to reach "done." I'd like to change that, so being strict with myself about picking one "active project" at a time to focus on seems like an excellent new habit to adopt.
4) Work on ONE quilt project at a time. Get it to the "ready to quilt" stage before working on another one. This mean I can have one quilt and one garment going at a time, which I hope will meet my need for variety, while encouraging speedier forward progress in finishing up some UFOs.
5) Learn to do machine quilting. If I stick with resolution #4 I should have a (not terrifically important, or very large) quilt top ready to practice on soon.
6) Go through the pattern stash and pull all the ones I really do think I'd like to make sometime soon. Work them into the "future active projects" pile.
7) Do not buy any more patterns until I've made something from at least three ("new", not TNT) stash patterns.
8) Delete all fabric sale emails UNREAD until I've made at least six garments from stash!
9) Make myself a pair of pants that fit, no matter how long or how many muslins it takes.
10) Sew some knits. Seriously. Just do it already.
Hey, look at that, a nice list of 10 for year 2010. I think I'll stop here.
Happy New Year everyone, and happy sewing.
Monday, December 28, 2009
A "taxi tote" (Anna Maria Horner pattern from her "Seams to Me" book) made from blue Kaffe Fasset fabric strips, seamed to together, lined with an Amy B. pastel print. I made the bag about an inch wider than the original pattern, but taking a larger seam at the bottom corners, and added a double-layer of very stiff interfacing (no idea what, it's been in the stash a while) between the bag and lining. Mum had admired the Taxi Tote I'd made for myself when she was last here for a visit, and hinted that she might like something similar. Hard to believe it's been over a year since I made the first one, which has turned out to be a favorite, and much-used everyday bag. I like it so much, I might need to make another.
Two "birdie slings" (Amy Butler pattern), the green one is an AMH print, with KF trim. The blue-brown is batiks from my stash that I think play especially well together.
I reduced the (huge!) pattern pieces at 78% on my home copier to make a more everyday size. I added some length back to the strap, since that got reduced, too, along with the bag body and lining, and I didn't want the straps to be too short.
I'm going to make one of these for myself someday, too.
It's unusually sunny and bright for Hilo this morning, so even with a flash it's hard to take a window shot. Here's the best I managed:
Friday, December 18, 2009
These are going to be for my husband's home office. When he saw the curtains I made for my office, he realized how greatly his space needed some big, bold color, too. He insisted nothing else would do but a large blue and green print, something suitable for our tropical location without being too over-the-top Hawaiian/aloha-print. We found this stunning fabric, from Anna Maria Horner's "Drawing Room" collection, in the close-out section at Fabric.com, and it is perfect. Floral, yes, but such a bold scale that it's not "too girly" for DH.
We picked up the curtain hardware a couple of days ago, so now I have no excuse not to get these done by Christmas Eve. Yikes, that's less than a week away: I'd better pick up the pace.
I still need to cut the lining pieces, cut and sew 36 rod 'tabs', and learn how to use the blind-hem foot on my sewing machine. DH won't care how they are hemmed, but I do. Besides, I want to learn how to do a blind hem, and this seems like a good project for that. I'm going to practice on scraps, of course, but first I need to cut all those tab lengths and see what, if any, yardage is left. I might see if I can get a pillow from this fabric, too.
Fortunately most of my other XMas prep is done, so I can focus on this project over the weekend. I can't wait to see them done and up; they are going to be gorgeous!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I'd hoped to whip up a skirt or two, at least, and possibly even a pair of pants, for upcoming mainland travel, but the "designer" twills that arrived are... really nice. Luscious, and light, with a nice drape now that they've been through the wash: out of the box one of 'em could only be described as "creepy" to the touch, but it's mellowed out now. The problem is, they're too nice for what I thought I'd make. They cry out for a something tailored and with a sort of minimalist fussiness to show them off, and whatever I make from them will need to be LINED. I did also purchase some lining fabric, but with something else in mind, so it's not the right color. Hmmmm.....
Somehow I managed to order a dark orange ("paprika") stretch twill...
...without realizing it's a polyester/lycra blend, not the cotton/lycra I was expecting. Totally my error: I checked the listing page, and yup, it's poly. If your first reaction is to cringe -- as mine was -- I have to say that this is a very nice poly indeed. This fabric is gorgeous! Anyway, there's a skirt in this book:
The thing about these Japanese patterns, which I drool over, is that I'm a size larger (at least) than their idea of a large, and at this precise moment I am not convinced I really want to tackle sizing it up. Maybe. I'm going to think about it some more.
Other options include view C (on the left) or B (on the right) of Vogue 7910:
In the meantime, I'm deep into my first attempt at altering a pants pattern to fit, and it's driving me nuts. More on that later...
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
... for my home office! Ignore, please the messy desk. Things got moved aside, and then I was so eager to snap pics as soon as the rods and curtains were up that I haven't even unplugged the power drill yet. My office is the dining alcove: the plants are orchids on top of some storage cabinets that function as a room divider so the space feels less like an alcove and more like a separate room. Here's the view from the kitchen:
It took me a long time to make these. I got the fabric all measured and cut some not too long after we moved in early this summer, and then was distracted by life and other projects. I kept thinking I ought to sew these up, but after getting our bedroom curtains done (shown here, two of the five total made, Amy B fabric, not blogged yet):
I just couldn't face another curtains project right away. Which turned out to be about two months.
But the sun has been inching ever southward as we've inched into autumn, and glare on my computer screen has (as I suspected) become a problem. I didn't want to change my office layout (for feng shui reasons, as well as it's a very small space and options are limited), so curtains are the solution.
These are made from Anna Maria Horner's "Guest of Honor" fabric from her Garden Party line, with borders in two colorways in "Dance Floor" from the same collection. Many thanks to Kerith at Material Girl Shoppe for the fabric, good price, and great service. I look forward to shopping with you again.
I did not make these curtains "by the book" at all. For one thing, they are quilting fabric, which is not very wide, nor does it have the heft and drape a good curtain should have. Well, too bad. I love, love, love everything about this print. So yes, while the curtains do cover the windows when drawn shut, they are not as wide as they should be according to curtain-making guidelines. Sad truth is that 1.5-2X window width for fabric means double the yardage (i.e., cost) plus at least twice the cutting headaches plus finicky print matching on the seams. It just wasn't going to happen.
So, these are just one fabric width wide each. There is barely 1/8" turn-back at the sides, as I didn't want to sacrifice even fractions of an inch in width. Lining is a cheap cotton-poly blend in pale blue. I experimented with using a "clip strip" at the top back, so the curtain ring clips would be hidden rather than grasp the top edge of the curtain, but after doing one curtain I decided I didn't have the energy or patience to go that route. So, visible clips it is, even though I don't like them. They sure are easy, and that's worth a lot to me.
Here are some close-ups of the borders. The top is interfaced (on the lining) for 3", to avoid drooping between the curtain ring clips. So nice to work with coordinating prints, as the color match is perfect. I love how the red border at the bottom picks up the colors of the blossom centers:
Next up, I have some of this fabric with white blooms, and I'm going to use that to make a big pillow for my desk chair. I might even have enough left of the blue "Dance Floor" to trim the pillow with it.
Only problem is that these dress up my office so nicely that my husband has decided that his office needs curtains, too (we both work at home, so we have two full-time home offices). He's right, too. Compared to my office, his now looks bland and blank and white, and in need of some nice fabric embellishment in the window area. I don't think he has anything as boldly floral as this in mind, so first challenge is to get some idea of what kind of fabric he'll be happy with. I really hope we don't have to settle for something traditionally gag-inducing like boring stripes or plaid. We're just not the traditional type, either of us.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
I think it needs some kind of embellisment (some fabric flowers at one side of the neck, perhaps?_ but fat chance I'll ever get to that. A silver belt and strappy sandals would dress it up nicely, too, but I don't own either of those and am not ever likely to.
The fit, after two bodice tweakings in real muslin, is one of my best efforts in the home sewing department. It could be tailored a bit more, but given the Hilo climate a little breathing room is a good idea. I narrowed the skirt slightly, by folding out about 2" (at the hem) of each quadrant, tapering to nothing at the waist. In a drapier fabric that wouldn't have been necessary.
My biggest question, now that I see myself in this, is: Where did my waist go?
I used to have one, a decade or so ago.
I can't decide whether I love the dress more than I'm appalled at how much I look like my grandmother.
Oh, those glorious days of youth, when I was only appalled at how much I look like my mother.
Anyway, this sultry weather is the reason I pulled this wadder from the back of the closet. If the fabric weren't so hideous I'd have cut it up for scrap a long time ago. It's a "wearable muslin" of a self-drafted pattern from sometime in the spring, when I wanted to see if I could turn the top part of Amy B's Cabo Halter into a sundress. I did not self-line the bodice (edges are finished with bias strips), used narrower ties, added a 2" midriff band, and cobbled together a very slightly gathered two-tier skirt.
Results nothing to be proud of. The fit isn't great, but the halter style is comfortable on a hot day. The quilting-cotton fabric was super cheap, which is about all I can say about it, other than it was purchased with muslin use in mind because, as I've said, it was cheap.
I'm not showing my face here because seriously, this is waaaaay more cleavage than anyone my age should display, so I'm pretending someone else is modeling this. I wouldn't even answer the door in this dress, so why I'm posting a photo of it to blogdom I can't say.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
1) Vogue 8232 #1: “wearable muslin” (dark blue cotton from stash); this has been almost done for a week but I don’t have enough fabric to make the facing (and don’t have the patience to play around with necessary pattern adjustments after several muslins) so need to find a close-enough fabric in the stash from which to make bias strips with which to finish the neck and arm raw edges. When this is done, I will wear it around the house for a day, to see if it’s comfortable enough to be worth making another one. If so...
2) Vogue 8232 #2: maxi version, pink and blue butterfly fabric. Fabric is pre-washed and ready to go, and I found both zipper and thread in appropriate colors in my stash (always nice when that happens). Sewing time during the week is a few stolen minutes here and there, and weekends go by fast, so getting around to this may take a while.
3) Curtains for my office. Seriously. I’ve had the fabric for months, and the farther we get into fall, the more glare-on-the-computer-screen is going to be a problem. I really should do something about this. Soon.
3) Modifed “buttercup” bag for my mom for Christmas. I know, that's months away still, but I've got a bunch of things going and only so many sewable minutes in a day/week/eon. I’m making a few adjustment to this pattern, too, including adding a side/bottom strip, fusible fleece interfacing, and a zipper. Figuring out how to do it as I go along, one teeny tiny step at a time. I’m somewhere in the middle of this, nowhere near done.
4) “Pink Lattice” lap quilt: center top has been done for a month. Need to: decide what I’m going to do about a narrow inner border (pink? orange? both?), finish sewing up “piano keys” outer border pieces (inspired by this one) to approximate size, and finish/affix both borders. That will get the top done. Still clueless what I’m going to do for the back, unless Vogue 8232 turns out not to be the “TNT” dress I’m hoping for, in which case I will use the pink/blue butterfly fabric here.
5) Lap quilt for DH (no photos yet). All “A” and “B” blocks for the center top are done. Next up is to play with final block layout, which requires the installation of a flannel design wall in the sewing room. I have purchased and seamed a large piece of white flannel, which I plan to staple to the wall, but first I have to do a little clean-up in there and rearrange all the furniture. And find the staple gun. And the box of staples. Hope to get to that this weekend.
6) Some kind of tunic. I have several patterns and plenty of fabric in the stash, but have yet to make a decision about which fabric/pattern combo to first. Would very much like to get at least one tunic done before the end of the year. That might not happen.
7) Bird Christmas ornaments. I’m fooling around with the Spool bluejay pattern, which is nice, but not really what I have in mind. The plan is to make up a bunch of these for those “impossible to shop for” friends and relations. Reality is I may end up buying a whole lot of gift assortment boxes of goodies at Big Island Candies instead, as I did last year...
8) Our two papasan chairs need new cushion covers. I’ve had the fabric for this project for a couple of years, but it has not been a priority. Then yesterday the chairs got set up in our bedroom reading nook, with beach towels thrown over the grotty old cushions, which is not the decor look I’m going for (as much as I am “going for” anything decor-ish, which is hardly at all). Time to inch this one closer to the top of the list. Probably not this weekend, though I might get as far as re-measuring everything, finding the fabric, and trying to remember what it was I'd planned to do.
9) We have one set of placemats. They're lovely, but new ones would be nice. Just a couple, and some napkins to go with. It's not like I'd have to go out and buy more fabric for 'em, given the stash situation around here. Don't know when I'll get to this, but I think about it often.
10) A Birdie Sling bag for me. Oh, the possibilities! Too many possibilities. I can't seem to make up my mind which fabrics to make this from, which I guess means I haven't hit upon the perfect combination yet. A day will come when I'm seized with inspiration and drop all other projects to make this, but it's not likely to be today.
I could go on, but I think I'll stop here.
I should go sew something now, but I feel a nap coming on. Just thinking about this list (and it's just sewing projects! not even the tip of the iceberg of everything else I'd like to get done!) has worn me out.
And this blog needs a new banner, too.
Monday, September 14, 2009
And the back:
The prints are all Amy Butler fabrics. I tried, but failed, to tweak the colors in these photos for greater accuracy. The pale blue is not quite so neon-bright as it appears, and the dark taupe is softer.
Finished size is 18" square, and there's a zip under the right side of the dark taupe strip on the back. I'd show you a close-up, but then you'd see how messy some of my hand-stitching is.
Here's my advice to anyone tempted to try this pattern/method: If you Google "Cathedral Windows tutorial" you will come across some variations in construction. One major difference is whether to simply press in the raw edge on the large foundation block or to sew them up. I fell for the "fold instead of seam" approach (it seemed so much easier) and I can saw with some expertise now that it does not produce as good a result.
It may seem like so much more work to do the tedious seaming and turning and pressing first step on the large square (setting up to fold the corners in a second time to make the "window" frames), but it is worth it.
I had fun making this, as I've wanted to try my hand at Cathedral Windows for a long time, and was curious how it would work with a limited color palette and repeated fabrics, rather than the more traditional "charm" approach using as many different fabrics as possible. It was a good "lap project" to have on hand for TV nights.
I can't remember exactly what size foundation squares I started with (9"?) before all that seaming and folding. If I ever make something like this again, I think I'll start a little smaller (8?), so the windows/charms are smaller as well.
But that's not likely to ever happen. Getting this done really stretched the outer limits of my patience and attention span for doing something so tedious and repetitive. Before pillow, my attitude toward Cathedral Windows was "that's so interesting and different; I'd like to tray making something with that method some day." After pillow, it's: "been there, done that." I still like this pattern/method, but will be happy from now on to admire the efforts of others. How anyone makes it through enough of these fussy little squares to get an entire bed-quilt out of it is a mystery to me.
Speaking of quilts, I started on the lap quilt I'm making for my husband. Will post more about that some day when I've reached a photo-op point.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
The dress, if knee-length, requires a bit more than two yards, and for the maxi closer to three. I don't have anything that size in my stash except for:
A) some lightweight linen and cotton lawn, both of which are too thin (I have in mind tunic-type tops for those, but haven't gotten to them yet).
B) a piece of quilting cotton that is perhaps the worst color for me to wear. Not gonna make clothes from it, ever.
I have some lovely extra fabric from my office curtains project (still in progress), and could cut the skirt from that if I make the bodice from something else. I do have coordinates available, but until the office curtains are done I don't want to cut into the excess. Just in case I make some horrible error while sewing (or spill coffee on one, or whatever) and need to redo one.
How convenient that Fabric.com sent me an email this morning about another 50% off sale. Here’s what I got:
Kaffe Fassett in brown/pale green. I have a charm square of this, and although it's not the colors I usually gravitate toward, I think the colors and scale will be a good match for the Vogue dress.
Goofy blue and pink butterflies. I may pull this from the package and go, "OMG, what was I thinking?!" I was thinking it's 50% off, and could make a fun ATH (around-the-house) dress. I have a fairly high goof-tolerance, but if this is more than I can bring myself to wear -- even on sillier-mood days -- it might end up on the back of the pink lattice quilt.
Two autumnal orange scrolly prints. They might combine into a dress, but I suspect the smaller print will turn out to be metallic. In which case these two might become the new placemats/napkins I've been thinking of making. And maybe a "Birdie Sling" if I ever get around to using my pattern for that. Or a mandarin style jacket?
Another KF. I have a lot of charm/strip bits of blue and white, to which scraps of whatever I make from this will be added. I'm thinking a short dress will appeal on those days I feel like dressing a little more "ladylike" than usual. Or it might become something for my mum, who loves anything ladylike and blue.
So, 12 yards later, and I have fabric for at least one dress, maybe several. Stay tuned...
Monday, September 7, 2009
I whipped up a muslin of Vogue 8232 this morning. I've been wanting to make this dress since seeing Cindy's version, so when Vogue patterns went on sale a few weeks ago I snatched this up. I'm not doing a maxi yet, but if this turns out to be the "TNT" dress pattern I've been looking for I will add a long version to the projects list for sure.
This is my first time adjusting a princess-seamed bodice pattern. I started by making the front a size larger than the back to accomodate my barrel chest, and added 1/2" length to the center front piece, tapering to nothing along the front-side pieces. This worked out better than I'd hoped. The waistline hangs perfectly all the way around, and the fit through the bust is good. And the skirt back sits well, so the "swayback" (i.e., big butt) adjustment was a good idea, too.
It does need tweaking, though. The front shoulders are too wide (which means they are really wide, because I don't have narrow shoulders), and I need to "pinch" about an inch out of the center front neckline. I'm going to have to play around with the center front pattern piece to figure out how to fix both those fit problems without messing around with the bust fit, which is pretty darn good for a first try.
The entire back is just a tad big, although the length is fine for once (thank you, Vogue!), I need to study my rear reflection in the mirror a bit more and ponder potential fixes. I think a minor adjustment to side back seams, and taking out a bit at the center top on either side of the zipper will do it.
Don't know that I'll get back to this today. It's midday, now, and a bit sticky for any more trying things on until it cools off a bit. I think I'll cut a new center front piece to get the adjustments right. Back torso fixes I think can be done by taking a slightly bigger seam here and there.
So far, though, this dress is showing tremendous potential, so I'm thrilled ... even though I'm horrified at the size I had to cut, and am feeling a bit like a whale lately.
I also don't know what fabric I'm going to make this from when I get the muslin tweaked to an acceptable point. I have a dark pink provencal print that's been in my stash for over a decade (!), but it's much crisper than the muslin and I suspect the skirt might not drape well. Which is why it's still in the stash.
I have a ton of fabric in my quilting stash, but no large pieces. I might have to go fabric shopping...
Monday, August 24, 2009
1) Find out if I'd made enough of them (I'd only guesstimated number of rows), and
2) See what they'd look like all laid out
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
I should be finishing up the bedroom curtains, but I'm at a stage where I need to be careful and not make any idiot mistakes, and this past week or so my free time and focused brainpower have not intersected to create a curtain-appropriate sewing opportunity.
So, instead of FINISHING something, I've started yet another project. Don't know what happened to my clothes-sewing mojo, but inspiration seems to be coming in the form of quilt ideas these days. Above is some early-on string piecing for a lap quilt I'm making entirely from stash fabrics. Yes, there's a lot of pink in the pile: that's a fuschia solid that will be the lattice around many different scrap squares.
Here's where I got the inspiration: Kaffe Fassett's "Taupe Lattice" from his Glorious Patchwork book. The book's on loan from the library and has to go back soon, so I snapped this pick as a reference.
The quilt in the book is quite large, and mine will be significantly smaller, so I'm not planning to do the wide border shown here -- although I love it, and do think it makes the quilt. But it's at least 8" wide each side, which for the size I'm making would leave very little of the middle and probably the proportions would look all off, so I'm going to come up with something a bit narrower. Probably. I'll deal with border decisions when the center is done (at which point this book will be long gone, hence the need to have this photo on my hard drive).
I'm eager to see how this looks with a hot pink lattice compared to the neutral taupe KF used. I like the variety of lattice intersection colors he used (the smallest pieces), but am going with a very narrow range of flame oranges for mine.
This is not a priority project, and I have the usual zillion other things I should be doing, so there's a good chance it will go into a bin at some point before I finish it, for a nice long rest while I tackle more important things. In the meantime, cutting basic squares and strips and string piecing are the kind of thing I can do when I need a break from the computer and want to do a little sewing without tackling any kind of project that needs brainpower.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Now I have to trim the sides of everything, and sew fronts and linings together. I'd have made more progress today but I've been greatly distracted by obsessive checking of online weather forecasts re Hurricane Felicia. I'm pleased to say that as of the 5pm update today the forecast track no longer passes DIRECTLY over my house, but has shifted slightly northward.
Fingers crossed she continues drifting to the north and doesn't wander back this way. Chances of Felicia dwindling to a tropical depression before she hits (passes by?) Hilo on Monday have been lowered since yesterday, but even a tropical storm is better than a hurricane, and I remain hopeful she'll suffer a catastrophic breakdown sometime in the next 36 hours.
Best case scenario it will all turn out to be much ado about not very much weather. I'm prepared for the power to be out for at least a bit and maybe a while. Which means I might need a hand-sewing project to keep me entertained. I'm thinking scrap-fabric leaves appliqued around the bottom of my pink linen skirt. I think I'll Google "leaf applique" and see what I can find online.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I'm liking this, because it provides a built-in reason to buy more (i.e., FQs) rather than less (charms, layer cakes, jelly rolls) fabric. But there's a very practical reason behind it.
The tactical error I made was to purchase several "jelly roll" selections of Kaffe Fassett prints, because I wanted to broaden the range of fabrics to include in a future project, but a little bit of most would be plenty. I'm going to finally follow through on my goal to learn foundation piecing this year, and figured the 2.5" strips would be a perfect size for the pattern(s) I have in mind.
So far, so good, but it was not until I received the "your order has shipped" emails that I realized my error: I'm a dedicated pre-washer, and if I were going to mix the new bits in with existing fabric stash (which is a given), I'd have to pre-wash the jelly rolls, too. I love love love KF fabric, but dang, the stuff does shrink. Mixing unwashed with prewashed KF does not strike me as a good idea. Especially because I will be using a lot of his very intense colorways in deep reds and blues and purples.
I have to say I was tempted to ignore the strident yelps of reason from the logical side of my brain, but in the end I gave in. The pic above shows what about half a jelly roll looks like when it comes out of the wash. I did put it in a net bag, and grabbed it out of the dryer while still quite damp (ironing with a hot but no-steam iron dried it out fine), but still... what a mess.
The strips sure are gorgeous, though, and worth the hassle (although I don't plan to go through it again, it's FQs or bigger for me from now on). They aren't quite the pre-cut 2.5" width any more, but I'm not planning to use any of them for the kind of pattern other folks use jelly rolls for, so not an issue for me.
Here's today's pick of three I wish I had larger pieces of. There are many others, but today I especially like these. The red "big blooms" to the right I do have a large piece of. It's one of several reds that will feature prominently in a very ambitious (for me) project I have planned. More on that later.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
I don't think she reads this blog, but maybe she takes a peek from time to time. You'd think my own mom would be a "follower" but I doubt she knows what following is, or how to do it (she only recently got her own email account, a big step for someone of a generation for whom all things digital can be intimidating).
Mum's turning 75 in September, which seemed worth making a bit of a fuss about, although she says she'd rather ignore birthdays at her age. So, way back last winter I got started on a gift for her, something mostly hand-sewn that I could work on in the evening while watching TV.
I am totally patting myself on the back for starting it so early, because it's the kind of thing I'd work on for a few days, then drop for a couple of weeks. Progress was slow, but it only took me seven months (I'd allowed eight) to finish what for some might have been at most a week or two project.
Anyway, it's finally done, and turned out gorgeous, and I soooooo want to put up a photo and show it off.
But I don't want to be a spoiler, so I'm gonna hold off for a bit longer. I'll provide a teaser, though, by saying that the finished product falls into the "home decor" arena, and by showing you a fabric sample to illustrate the prints/color scheme:
Mum loves softer blues and demure florals, and I'm an Amy Butler addict, so these are a happy compromise: the colors are "Mum," and while the prints are bolder than she'd choose for herself they make the gift look like something made by me.
I'm going to go take a photo of the finished ... thing ... right now, so I can really show it off here after the big day.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
More mixed-fabric, drawstring waist, A-line skirts, made from a set of Amy Butler FQs that I originally thought would be used for a different project, but which ended up in the stash. The one above is currently the most-loved, most-worn garment in my closet.
Here's the back view:
It's a good thing these are so quick and easy to make from fabric-on-hand, 'cuase at the rate I'm wearing and washing these they will be worn out in a year. Which is cool, because by then I'll have a whole new set of groovy FQs and large scraps in the stash (most likely) and will be ready to make more.
Same self-drafted pattern based on Sew What! Skirts instructions as the pink ones. As before, I seamed two or three fabric pieces together before cutting the skirt front and back.
Here's another one from the same set of dark blue Amy B. FQs, front (a bit fuzzy, sorry):
And I almost forgot about this one! Used up my last scraps of super-groovy aqua "daisy chain" -- love the big mod print. The little circle print I'm not so in love with, but this skirt used up a bunch of the big piece I had, so I'm happy about that. Front and back of this one are close to identical, so I'm only displaying one side:
Sunday, July 26, 2009
And here's the back:
I used my "Sew What! Skirts" A-line pattern, and redrew the "A" angle to be about an inch narrower on each side at the hem. The challenge with a drawstring is that any skirt big enough to pull on over my hips would have way too much fabric bunched up around the waist by the time it's cinched in. So I compromised, drafting the waist to be several inches larger than the finished size for fitted waist, then left about 3" open at the top of the left side seam, with the drawstring ends coming out at that side instead of at the center front (which, conveniently, eliminated any need to make a buttonhole). The side-seam opening makes the skirt pull-on-able, and allows for a narrower waist to keep the gathers manageable.
Because I was working with fabric pieces from the stash (Amy Butler and Michael Miller), I didn't have enough length of the pink print to allow for a folded-down drawstring casing, so I used a separate strip of the green to make that part. Again, I pieced two fabrics together first before cutting the front, then pieced three more and cut the back. Much easier to do that way than to draft, cut, and seam precise pieces that add up to the desired front/back shape.
The drawstring is a long strip -- I think around 1.25" -- pressed lengthwise (wrong side in, raw edges matching), then raw edges folded in to the center and pressed again, (like double-fold bias tape, but not on the bias) edge-stitched to close.
Rather than make the drawstring casing and then thread the drawstring through it, I made the drawstring first. Then, with the casing piece sewn to the waist edge of the skirt, I pressed under about 1/2" of the raw edge. I lay the drawstring in place and folded the casing edge down over it to the inside, and stitched in place with the drawstring inside.
I also topstitched up and down over the casing and drawstring vertically at the right side seam (opposite the opening) to hold the drawstring in place so it won't pull out when I toss the skirt in the wash. I finished the drawstring ends by putting the skirt on and tying the drawstring to fit with a bow, long ends hanging down. Cut off to leave about 6-8" of each end, and tied each end with a knot.
As I wear it, the "waist" actually sits about an inch below my navel, which I find a comfortable fit for a casual skirt. I finished the open edges at the top of the left side seam with a very narrow double-fold edge. Yes, it leaves a couple inches of open slit below the waist at the side, but since I never, ever tuck in a shirt, it's hidden by whatever T, tank-top, or camisole I happen to be wearing on the top half.
I pieced the fabric first: sewing a large piece of each print together, then pressed seam to one side, edge-stitched, and trimmed the SA with pinking shears. Then I cut the lotus print at an agle and seamed another piece of the main fabric to it, finished the same way. When I had two biggish pieces I used my pattern piece (drafted on freezer paper) to cut the front and back.
Fabrics are Michael Miller quilting cotton from the stash. I figured adding a strip of the lotus blossoms was so much more interesting than just a plain skirt all of the same fabric. There's another similar strip on the back side.
I put in a lapped side zip and some very slap-dashy darts to accommodate hippage. Waist is finished with a piece of packaged double-fold bias tape. Narrow double-turned hem. It's a few inches above the knee, comfy for sitting at my desk or running errands, but not so short as to be age-inappropriate.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
(Anna Maria Horner fabric laid out on floor so I can play with motif placement and border width; color's a bit off, but you get the idea)
I hope to maybe cut fabric for bedroom curtains, too. Will be using Amy B's new colorway of "trailing blossoms". Nice that I had a piece in the stash for inspiration, but of course significant additional yardage was required. I have way blown my fabric budget this summer, that's for sure. And I cringe at the thought of updating the year-to-date yardage chart to see how far behind I've fallen.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
In the midst of packing up all my fabric I also ordered more (gak!): Hancock's had an Amy B. print I've had my eye on for a while on sale ("trailing cherry" in the new colorway):
...so I picked up a few yards of that plus a yard of what I hope will be a good a coordinating print:
If the two don't play well together I'll just play with them separately. Parcel is still in transit, but confronting the fact that I'd succumed to yet another fabric-shopping indulgence prompted me to update my 2009 yardage spreadsheet to see how far I've fallen behind in my "sew" vs. "buy" stats.
Turns out, I'm doing better than I thought: so far this year I've purchased 59.5 yards, and have used 42.5. So, I'm only 17 yards behind.
Which got me thinking. The new house only has blinds on some of the windows; I'll need to make curtains for the bedroom and my office, and probably will do a cafe-curtain treatment for the kitchen window. And although the guest room/sewing room does have blinds, I want to make the curtains to coordinate with daybed cover/bedspread that I never got to while in this house. And our two shabby-looking papasan chairs, as well as two large floor cushions, are all in desperate need of fresh covers.
A lot of that can be done from stash: I've got fabric on hand for the papasan chairs and the guest room curtains, and if there's any guest-room fabric left over I'd love to use it for the kitchen, too, because last year I recovered the kitchen chair cushions with some large scraps of the black colorway.
And surely I can find fabric in the stash to cover two floor pillows. Quickie guesstimate of yardage requirements for those three projects: oh, probably around 17 yards. So if I can channel my creative energies into home decor projects, and resist more skirt temptations, it looks like I can close up that buy-sew gap.
The truly clever thing to do would be to approach this on the incentive plan. How 'bout I'm not allowed to buy fabric for my office curtains until I've "made up" that 17-yard short-fall? That would put a bit of a fire under my butt.
The downside of all these plans is that I've been telling myself (and my husband) that once we're moved in at the new place the sewing machine is going to stay in the closet for a while so I can catch up on the 1001 other things that need my attention...
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Given all that, I did reasonably well adapting (with much measuring, head-scratching, and hoping for the best) a sleeveless version of dress #23 to my shape and size. Here's the cheap cotton "wearable muslin" for what I'd hoped would be a repeatable "ATR" (around the house) dress:
The skirt, back and midriff came out fine, but I flubbed the bodice front. I sized it up and made it longer (even American patterns are 1-2" too short in the front torso for me) which turned out to be too big. Then I butchered trimming it down again, which is totally because I was tired and impatient and I should have known better than to keep going at that point. The funny pleats at the shoulder are because at try-on stage I discovered the shoulders were much wider than I wanted and I was too lazy/slapdashy to recut them, and just took a quickie pleat in the middle of each instead.
Even with such a flawed, ill-fitting bodice it's a serviceable garment, which is what I was aiming for. I'm wearing it right now and it's comfy enough that I probably will attempt it again someday. The challenge of getting the bodice to fit is far from solved, though, and some time needs to go by before I'll feel up for round two of redrafting.
I am pleased that I (deliberately) cut the midriff a bit loose, because, combined with the deep V neck, it means this can be a pull-on: no zipper required! The loose cut was planned with steamy weather in mind, the zipper-omission a happy coincidence. Of course, I discovered that after I'd done an astonishly good job installing the invisible zip. But if I don't need the zip, why waste it, so I ripped that all out and stitched up the center back seam.
You may be thinking, as I am, that for all that work it's a remarkably unflattering garment (I may not be slim, but I'm really not as chunky as I look in this dress). The thing is, I desperately need more lightweight, "breathable" (in both fabric and cut) dresses to wear around the house all summer. So I'm aiming for steamy-day comfort here, with no intention of ever appearing in public in it. That's what ATR dresses are for. I've got some more in the works, as I slog ever-onward in my quest for a truly great "TNT" (tried and true) ATR dress pattern. This isn't it, but at least I've got one more thing to wear on a warm day.